Thanks to the generosity of George Gabb, the AFS Archives recently acquired an oversized scrapbook filled with black and white photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, small brochures, cards, tickets, luggage tags, currency, and other small trinkets that thoroughly documented Sally Gabb’s trip to Hokkaido, Japan as an AFS Friendship Student between July and August 1961 where she was hosted by the Nagasawa family, offering a glimpse into the history of study abroad.
Although Sally Gabb was taught to value global appreciation and understanding at a very young age, her decision to travel to Japan not long after the devastation of the Second World War wasn’t fully supported by the Thomas Jefferson High School community. Skepticism of the “other” lingered throughout the United States at that time. It was for this very reason why Sally Gabb’s trip to post-war Japan was so important; it began laying the groundwork for amicable ties between the United States and Japan for generations to come.
Following World War II, Stephen Galatti (1888-1964), an AFS Volunteer since AFS’ inception in 1915, who later severed as the Director General of AFS from 1935 until 1964, transformed the organization from a volunteer ambulance corps into an international exchange program. In 1947, with the goal of fostering a culture of cooperation and understanding among peoples and nations, Stephen Galatti and 250 AFS Drivers from both World Wars launched the AFS Secondary School Exchange Program. The program promoted exchanges of high school students between the United States and other countries. In 1950, the Americans Abroad (AA) Summer Program was founded. A decade later, during the summer of 1961, Sally Gabb, like her AFS peers, embarked on a new adventure in Japan.
AFS firmly believed exchanges of high school students would help build a generation of world leaders. As an activist while attending Duke University and later the Columbia School of Journalism and as a devoted writer and advocate for adult education much of her life, Sally Gabb became a leader that upheld this vision.
Now at home in the AFS Archives, Sally Gabb’s scrapbook will be further documented and added to a larger, growing collection of materials donated by AFS Returnees. For more information regarding AFS’ archival collections and the history of study abroad, you can view the AFS finding aids here and digital images here. For more information on scheduling a research visit in the AFS Archives, please visit the AFS Archives website here.
*Page from Sally Gabb’s scrapbook. Returnee Collections, Archives of the American Field Service and Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives).